Fortnightly Magazine - August 2005

The Fusion Reaction

How an environmentally friendly power source can solve the fossil-fuel supply-and-demand gap.

The challenge over the next several decades will be completion of an economically competitive fusion power plant. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor is paving the way.

Grid Investment & Restructuring: Two Challenges, One Solution

FERC must align the immediate self-interest of profit-maximizing entities with its own view of what is in the public interest.

Two obstacles must be overcome to achieve true competitive markets: reversal of the long-term underinvestment in transmission, and greater clarity in the legal and regulatory environments. How can the industry make the most of a somewhat defensive regulatory posture?

Squeezing Scarcity From Abundance

California's pursuit of a centralized administrative solution in reliability hinders everyday operational issues.

California’s pursuit of a centralized administrative solution in reliability hinders everyday operational issues.

Guessing Mother Nature's Next Move

What can be done to improve weather prediction and load forecasts?

Improving the day-ahead weather and load forecast by just 1 degree Fahrenheit would have huge financial benefits for the industry.

One Fine Reliability Mess

Infrastructure isn't keeping pace. So how to "help" the market without killing it?

What's the right price signal to bring forth enough infrastructure to maintain reliability over the long haul? Moreover, if such a model exists, can it work without stifling competitive markets?

People

(August 2005) President Bush nominated Joseph Kelliher to chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Xcel Energy named Richard C. (Dick) Kelly CEO. And others...

Clearing the Air On Emissions

How utilities can take a portfolio-management approach to environmental compliance.

In March 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the final Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR). Assessing the impact that these and other environmental policies have on the whole organization reveals implications for the corporate process at all levels.

Consolidation: Key to the Future?

Why integration may win out in the long run.

In the electric power industry, the urge to merge has gained a new lease on life. These combinations are witness to the powerful forces of consolidation let loose when deregulation makes consolidation a preferred tactic in an uncertain world. But to what extent will government policy encourage or resist this trend? What exactly is the regulatory environment that nurtures combinations or, for that matter, supports fragmentation? As we shall see, there are many cross-currents.

Yet Another Subsidy For Wind?

FERC risks going overboard in easing penalties for generation imbalances.

What good is a penalty that does nothing to deter the crime? For wind turbines, generation imbalances are caused primarily by variations in weather. Even if these imbalances are indeed a bad thing, no $100 penalty will make them go away.

Measuring Return on Equity Correctly

Why current estimation models set allowed ROE too low.

A material capital structure mismatch, which occurs frequently, can lead to material misestimates of the appropriate allowed return on equity, perhaps on the order of 2 percentage points. That is, a 9 percent estimate of the cost of equity can imply an allowed rate of return on equity of 11 percent.